I’m sure most of you know about games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2. They are among the most popular video games out there, having developed into household names all over the world. But did you guys know these games are also dubbed as esports?
“What on Earth are esports?” This is probably what you’re wondering at the moment.
Well, esports are popular video games that have massive competitive scenes, feature a rich, diverse, and lucrative league system, with plenty of sponsorship deals, investments, and prize money on the line. The esports industry consists of game publishers, event organizers, professional esports athletes (a.k.a. players), and supporting team staff, such as nutritionists, trainers, psychologists, and coaches. There are more roles in the esports ecosystem, but those are the biggest ones.
How crazy is that, huh? There are people playing video games for money. Heck, there are people who coach people to play video games for even more money… Best of all, did you know betting on esports is very popular with people who enjoy sports betting? Yep, this means there are people betting on kids that play video games for money. It’s a massive industry, with projections claiming it will be worth $30 billion by the end of the year.
Esports’ Rise to the Top
Esports wasn’t always a lucrative business. Back in its early days, many doubted its potential and it was condemned to garages and empty storage facilities. In the early 2000s, esports was a hardcore underground community driven by video game enthusiasts and the good old nerds (guilty as charged).
However, things quickly went from storage facilities and garages to some of the most mesmerizing venues across the globe.
One of the key turning points was definitely the second League of Legends World Championship dating back to 2012, featuring a massive $2 million in prize money and hosting the final event in LA’s Staples Center. It showed a glimpse of esports’ potential with more than a million peak concurrent viewers, effectively kickstarting an enormous investment frenzy within the steadily growing industry.
Fast forward to 2019, Dota 2 The International 2019 featured close to $35 million in prize money, and the newest iteration of LoL World Championship attracted close to four million peak viewers. Both prize pools and viewership numbers are constantly rising, bringing forth more interest in the industry. Even though there’s still too much reliance on VC money, esports are definitely here to stay and could end up going head to head with conventional sports.
Tons of Money on the Line
Esports went from being an underappreciated, marginalized, underground scene to one of the most lucrative industries in the entertainment sector. Yet still, many people don’t know, or know very little, about esports.
One of the biggest esports news stories in 2019 stirred a ton of dust and appeared on numerous mainstream media platforms. The news was about Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf winning $3 million on Fortnite World Cup. Yep, that’s the big news that swept the nation and introduced esports and its lucrative nature.
A 16-year-old won $3 million by beating other players in a video game.
And Bugha isn’t the only esports millionaire. In fact, he’s currently in 12th place according to overall esports earnings. The first-placed Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has won almost $7 million playing Dota 2 on the highest competitive level. In fact, the top 30 highest earners all play Dota 2, except Bugha who earned his $3 million fortune with Fortnite.
Not only are the prize pools massive but the organizations’ expenses are too. Running a successful esports organization is a tough task, which is why it’s not surprising to see the majority of esports organizations are operating with losses. As stated earlier, the industry still relies on VC money, but expectations suggest it will become financially independent and self-sustainable in a matter of years… as long as the projections remain in the green, of course.